Pivot seems to be the current buzzword floating around the entrepreneur and business community lately. In the articles I have been reading and interviews I’ve listened to, business owners and entrepreneurs are all talking about how pivoting their business strategy is critical to their survival and success during and after this COVID-19 crisis. In my community, I have seen evidence of this from local breweries distilling hand sanitizer, restaurants offering grocery services, fitness centers hosting virtual workouts, and more. My husband’s real estate marketing company was forced to pivot from focusing primarily on still photography to 3D images and video walkthroughs when the shelter-in-place orders prevented people from being able to show and see properties on the market. They quickly poured all of their energy into developing new technology and a platform to allow this to happen and better serve their clients. The majority of companies are being forced to figure out new and innovative ways to connect with their customer base, ensure their product is still accessible, or develop new ways of operating and I am sure your business is no exception.
I recently heard an inspiring interview on NBC News Now from Kendra Scott (Founder, and CEO of Kendra Scott, LLC), who was asked about how her company is pivoting to stay afloat and relevant during this time. She explained the following:
“What I have learned is the struggles have made us stronger. Sometimes these huge moments force us to look at our business in a new way or from a new lens and I am hopeful that this crisis is going to do the same.”
Scott discussed how she is now pivoting her business strategy and finding new ways to connect with her customers through virtual events and try-ons and through curbside pickup. Scott is also no stranger to having to change course and be creative in the face of challenges. In the interview, she shared how hardships such as starting her business with a newborn baby in the wake of 9/11 and almost losing everything during the financial crisis in 2008 have shaped the way her business operates today and how those struggles actually turned out to be gifts. She now has 108 brick and mortar stores around the country and her business is valued at more than a billion dollars.
The word pivot that we have been hearing so much lately usually refers to a business making a change, course correction, or shift to a new strategy to ensure their survival whether it is during a difficult time or to capitalize on an opportunity. Seeing my husband pivot his business strategy and hearing many stories from other founders similar to Scotts about how this crisis is forcing them to look at their business from a new lens, got me to thinking that maybe this is the perfect opportunity for Jeff and me to do the same for our marriage.
All of the rapid changes and uncertainty in the past few months have been very stressful and difficult for the business and for our marriage. With the increased workload both with the company and at home, we have been pushed to our limits and we have been falling into some negative habits. However, I also know that there is often a silver lining in the struggle and it is often the challenging times that push us to take a hard look at what is working for us and what is not. Some questions I’ve asked to help us pivot are:
What has this challenging time brought to light and how can we be more effective as a couple?
How can we shift our strategy to function better as a couple?
What are our opportunities to course correct or reinvent our marriage to ensure we not only survive but thrive through this difficult time we are facing with COVID-19 but also for the long haul?
Where can I personally make some changes to be a better partner and wife?
When we sat down and discussed these questions together, here are a few key areas we discovered where our marriage would benefit greatly from pivoting to help strengthen our bond and effectiveness as a couple.
Opportunities to Pivot Our Joint Venture
Strengthen Our Team Mentality- Lately, we have become ships passing in the night. We have been going through the motions together in the same household and upholding our individual commitments, but we realized we weren’t really working together as a unified team. Our current roles and days look very different. I am home with the kids upholding the childcare and household responsibilities. Jeff works at the company and upholds the business and financial responsibilities. It can be easy to get sucked into our own individual worlds and operate in isolation. This can often make it difficult to relate and empathize with the individual challenges we are both going through. In addition, with everything changing so rapidly and the uncertainty with the economy and the business in the past few months, I had begun to feel even more out of the loop and unsure of where we are heading. This has increased my anxiety and left me feeling further disconnected from the business, from Jeff, and from our future. A successful marriage requires you to be a united team on all fronts. We needed a reminder that we are both in this together and we have the same objectives and goals financially, for the business and for our family. Our contributions in each of those areas are important and it’s imperative that we work together and fully support one another to make them a reality. Here’s how we pivoted to strengthen our team mentality. Since many of our plans and goals for the year have changed or been completely thrown out the window, we re-evaluate our longer-term goals together and decided on some new short term goals we could focus on for the remainder of the year. We also reinstate our weekly meeting together to discuss our calendar, how things are going, and issues or concerns that have come ups.
Make Connection Our #1 Priority- Since the inception of the business, it’s been a challenge to make time for one another. As I’m sure you are familiar with, the business demands a lot from my spouse. It takes him away physically with the long work hours and travel, but also emotionally due to the stress and mental space the business occupies in his mind. Often when we are sitting right next to each other I know he is actually still at his desk working or somewhere far away dreaming about the next big thing. In addition, we are crazy enough to be growing our family at the same time as growing our business and we have two young children running around that demand a lot of our time and energy! Even though this has been the case for a long time, it has been heightened during this time of crisis. Connection and intimacy have been lacking due to the increased stress and lack of alone time together. Deep connection and intimacy do not happen automatically. It has to be a priority and something you continually nurture. This is especially true in the entrepreneurial lifestyle where it can often feel like the business is a third party in the marriage. Here are a couple of ways we are going to pivot to make sure our connection as a couple stays our number one priority. We recommitted to weekly date nights that are focused on having fun together and building intimacy. This means during date night there is no work talk or falling into the same routine of landing on the couch watching a show that neither of us really likes!
Improve Our Individual Self-Care- The two of us have been burning the candle at both ends for a while now, but again this was heightened during the past few months. Exhaustion has set in and we realized we were both on the brink of burnout. Our own individual self-care has been on the back burner and it was starting to take a toll on our work as well as our relationship. I know I am not very pleasant to be around when I am exhausted and smaller issues or annoyances can easily blow up into big fights when we are stressed or depleted. It’s important to remember that taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally is taking care of our marriage. We can both do a much better job of taking care of ourselves and here are some strategies we came up with to help us pivot to improving our individual self-care, which as a result will improve our marriage. We are calling in the professionals and delegating where we can. We were able to hire back our part-time babysitter to help with childcare and give us some breaks and we also committed to starting up therapy again.
These areas are not new. They are things we’ve known we need to work on, but recognizing there is a problem, and making a change is hard! It is often easier to remain on autopilot going through the motions even if we aren’t completely happy or know that things could be better. There are also often barriers such as time, energy, resources, or our own deep-seated values or beliefs that get in our way from making a change. I have found that it usually takes getting to a breaking point personally and in our marriage until I decide that something has to change. And just like many businesses, we have been pushed to that breaking point and were forced to pivot in order to survive. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! You don’t have to wait for that huge moment of struggle or until you get to a breaking point to look at your marriage through a new lens. My hope is that this article will help you look for those opportunities and pivot before getting to that breaking point. Or if you are there, I hope that this will help facilitate a few ideas on how you might pivot to get back on track and become even stronger because of it.
As always, thanks for reading and I would love to hear some ways that you are pivoting personally or in your marriage to become more effective during this difficult time.